The art workshop at the Thirumalai Naick Palace aimed at sensitising students to respect heritage

“This chair (read throne) has survived the test of time because it belongs to a king,” remarked M. Hemalatha, a participant of an art workshop after drawing the throne of King Thirumalai Naick.

Her comment triggered a debate at the six-day workshop. Historians feel let down by the lack of documentary evidence to understand the social history of a place. Only through references found in literature they infer the life of a common man. Otherwise, majority of the documented history is about the king, court and his courtiers.

Under such circumstances it becomes imperative to protect and preserve at least the remaining archaeological evidences that speak volumes about the bygone era. The workshop organised as part of the World Heritage Week celebrations by The Department of Archaeology in association with Art and Culture Development Centre and Koozhangal Education Research Centre, aimed at igniting passion in youngsters to protect monuments.

“Monuments are structural manifestations of the life of our ancestors,” says G. Chandrasekaran, retired Principal, Chennai College of Fine Arts. “Though public relegate them as lifeless structures basking on past glory, historians always find them to be more alive, immediate and relevant to people and term them as living monuments,” he says.

More than 300 students from schools and colleges took part in the workshop and recorded their impressions of Thirumalai Naick Palace through drawings and photographs.

“Students need motivation to get involved in such activities,” says V. Senthil Selvan, painter. “Our intention is not to make them masters of this art but to make them understand history as they get to know about their roots. Once they learn, their sense of belonging to the place will prevent them from doing any further damage to the monument,” he feels.

As part of the workshop the participants were also asked to write a story or poem taking inspiration from the monument.

“This art workshop is a good platform to get children closer to heritage ,” says B. Kathir, freelance documentary filmmaker. “It is our responsibility to provide children an environment conducive to learn more about ancient structures. Here students get an opportunity to observe keenly the architectural splendour of the place. Next time they visit the palace they would be in a position to educate their parents,” he says.

Though Thirumalai Naick is popular for its huge pillars dotting every 10 metres, students found other elements like ‘yaazhi’, dance court and floral stuccos on the ceiling and ornamental designs on the façade more attractive and interesting.

“Such events will create awareness among the students on protecting heritage structures,” says N. Ganesan, Assistant Director, Department of Archaeology.

The art works of the participants are on display at the palace. IDaily interactive sessions are also slated between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. till April 26.

Similar workshops will be shortly organised at Ramanthapuram and Kazhugumalai also.